Chasing Ghosts – A Minneapolis, Minnesota Modern Kitchen Design… and Re-design

Vent Hood Retrofit

Zoinks!!! It’s not often a kitchen demands an eight foot long vent hood to whisk away the smoke from a cooktop. Naturally, you don’t just walk into The Home Depot and purchase a beast like that, so we custom designed one. Not a very good one, though.

Turns out the vent hood didn’t work. Oh, the unit turned on just fine and looked fantastic! It just didn’t draw smoke out of the kitchen. Two out of three ain’t bad, right? … maybe if you are listening to Meatloaf, but not if you are cooking it.

What went wrong? I immediately suspected ghosts, of course. What else could it be? We had meticulously designed the perfect vent hood for this modern kitchen, accounting for everything down to the tiniest detail. We even specified a roof-mounted blower with the capacity to suck up a small child (although we never actually tested this). We figured we were pretty safe. The homeowners would just have to watch their children. 😉 We thought of everything. Almost.

Vent Hood Prior to Retrofit

When the homeowners finished coughing and wheezing they called the Bjella Special Investigations Team (we’re thinking about getting a van like Scooby-Doo). You can imagine mag-wheels squealing and sirens blaring, the team scrambling to set up specialized computer equipment, drawing diagrams, frantically analyzing algorithms, referencing technical manuals and finally wandering around the kitchen with hand on chin saying things like “hmmm” and “very interesting”. Instead we just lit the burner and watched the smoke rise.

Long story short, I suspected a creepy looking ghost dressed like a man, or visa versa, and wanted to set a trap for it – and possibly have a chase scene. Robyn was skeptical. Cooler heads prevailed. The culprit was, anticlimactically, the house ventilation system. By lightly blowing across the center island, it was short circuiting the air flow from the cooking surface to the vent hood. Yet another reason to place cooktops against walls instead of on center islands (but that’s a topic for another day).

Fabricating a brand new hood would have been costly. We needed to come up with a fix like NASA had for the Hubble Telescope, except significantly less expensive… I take that back. We needed a fix NOTHING like NASA’s.

Because you are undoubtedly on the edge of your seat, sweat on your brow, the solution was simply to extend the hood and create more capture area on the side where the smoke was leaking out. In other words, we put a bill on the hat. Tada! It worked like a charm and, happily, looks even better than the original (oh, and we captured the bad guy. Turns out it was just a dude in a costume. Who would have guessed?).

Shown above is our certified kitchen and cardboard specialist, Robyn (Daphne) Bjella, affixing and testing the mock-up prior to fabrication of the stainless steel retrofit (I mostly sat around taking pictures and eating Scooby snacks – and watching for ghosts).

Vent Hood Retrofit After-2

Vent Hood Retrofit - After

Read more about this Minneapolis, Minnesota modern kitchen by Bjella Kitchen Designers in Trends Magazine.

Published by

Tim Bjella

Principal architect and interior designer for Arteriors / Bjella Architecture.

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